The “Raw” End of the Deal: Why I Don’t Like Giving out Raw Images

I’m going to be honest. As a photographer, I get a lot of requests. “Can you edit out my frown lines?” “My mother-in-law has some insecurities about her arms. Are there any edits or re-touching you can do to help?” “My brother got an awful zit the day before my wedding. Can you make sure they don’t appear in the photos?” And as a photographer, I do my best to honor these requests – when feasible.

However, there is one request that I – like other photographers – dread getting. Can I get a copy of the raw images?

Although I understand the curiosity that drives this question, there are several reasons that I don’t like giving out raw images and, for the sake of transparency, I’m going to highlight a few.

Quality over Quanitity

Sure, it might seem that having “more” photos to select from is better. However, I believe the age-old adage applies here: sometimes less is more. It might help to understand my editing process. I spend hours culling through images, carefully selecting those that meet my standards. Not every photo taken is one worth keeping. That photo with Aunt Jill squinting into the sun or Uncle Jim staring at the ground – it’s probably not one that would make the fridge. The one that has Cousin Fred making some weird twisted face – you know, the one that looks like he is peeved about something – it’s probably not one that you would want circulating on social media. When I select images for your gallery, I do so with years of experience and my name on the line. I want to ensure that the images you receive are only the best.

Artistic Vision

I view photography as an artform. One that has taken nearly a decade to perfect. When someone asks for raw images, it’s the equivilant of asking an artist to send over an unfinished canvas. Culling and editing images are a part of my artistic process. If you are wanting raw images, then you might be looking for something different than a professional photographer.

Brand Association:

The harsh truth is that any images taken by me are going to be associated with me – regardless of whether or not I completed the edit. Therefore, if I release raw images and the bride chooses to use Snapchat-like filters to complete her own edits, my name is going to be associated with those edits. When someone sees my work circulating on Facebook or Instagram, they should be seeing my total and complete work. Afterall, my business is dependent on referrals and is based entirely on visual representation.